There is altered breastmilk composition among mothers with gestational diabetes and conflicting evidence on whether breastfeeding is beneficial or detrimental to their offspring's cardiometabolic health. We aimed to investigate associations between breastfeeding and offspring's cardiometabolic health across the range of gestational glycemia.
We included 827 naturally conceived, term singletons from a prospective mother-child cohort. We measured gestational (26-28 weeks) fasting plasma glucose (FPG) and 2-h plasma glucose (2 hPG) after an oral glucose tolerance test as continuous variables. Participants were classified into 2 breastfeeding categories (high/intermediate vs. low) according to their breastfeeding duration and exclusivity. Main outcome measures included magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-measured abdominal fat, intramyocellular lipids (IMCL), and liver fat, quantitative magnetic resonance (QMR)-measured body fat mass, blood pressure, blood lipids, and insulin resistance at 6 years old (all continuous variables). We evaluated if gestational glycemia (FPG and 2 hPG) modified the association of breastfeeding with offspring outcomes after adjusting for confounders using a multiple linear regression model that included a 'gestational glycemia × breastfeeding' interaction term.
With increasing gestational FPG, high/intermediate (vs. low) breastfeeding was associated with lower levels of IMCL (p-interaction = 0.047), liver fat (p-interaction = 0.033), and triglycerides (p-interaction = 0.007), after adjusting for confounders. Specifically, at 2 standard deviations above the mean gestational FPG level, high/intermediate (vs. low) breastfeeding was linked to lower adjusted mean IMCL [0.39% of water signal (0.29, 0.50) vs. 0.54% of water signal (0.46, 0.62)], liver fat [0.39% by weight (0.20, 0.58) vs. 0.72% by weight (0.59, 0.85)], and triglycerides [0.62 mmol/L (0.51, 0.72) vs. 0.86 mmol/L (0.75, 0.97)]. 2 hPG did not significantly modify the association between breastfeeding and childhood cardiometabolic risk.
Our findings suggest breastfeeding may confer protection against adverse fat partitioning and higher triglyceride concentration among children exposed to increased glycemia in utero.